Friday, October 5, 2012

A Picture Speaks A Thousand Words - Amsterdam

Can a photograph actually speak a thousand words? Can it really tell the whole story? In my new series I shall be picking out a few of my favourite photographs and talking about them;  where I took them and if at all they really "speak" about the place it was taken in. I do not intend to count the words to a 1000, but still try and see if a picture can really be as descriptive and informative as we claim it to be.

Taken on a gloomy afternoon, The Blues Brother’s Coffeeshop photograph has been one of my favourites over the years particularly because I stumbled upon the place in one of my treasured cities, Amsterdam. Situated close to the Central Train Station in a by-lane, it is easy to skip the cafe if you are not paying attention as it is nestled amidst a variety of everyday shops. But then, that's the beauty of Amsterdam; there are so many hidden gems in plain sight that one really needs to explore the city with all their senses on high alert and most importantly, explore the city on foot.

So what makes this photograph so special for me? For starters it signifies Amsterdam for what it is. It's quirky, it's funky, and just like the movie the cafe is named after it's full of adventures.

A closer look at the photo and the architecture will amaze you. That's Amsterdam for you, art and culture seeped into every iota of the city. Amsterdam's fascination with art and culture doesn't just end with its buildings or the countless museums that grace the city, Blues Brother’s Coffeeshop also signifies Amsterdam's love with cinema.

Those of you who know a little about me, and follow my film blog (shameless plug) would have guessed that it was primarily the name of the cafe that drew my attention towards it. Walk around this city of canals and you'll find small independent cinemas in nooks and corners that are both charming and an experience not to be missed.

While Amsterdam might be famous for the other kind of coffeeshops, wink wink, there is no denying the fact that if you want to take in the multiculturalism of Amsterdam you need to sit in a cafe by the canal and just watch and observe, in a non creepy manner, people from around the world go about exploring the city. The photo for some weird reason also reminds me of the best French Onion Soup I ever had even though it was in a cafe a good couple of miles away from Blues Brother’s Coffeeshop.

Lastly, the photograph signifies Amsterdam because as luck would have it there was a bicycle parked outside the cafe. Bicycles are to Amsterdam what a heart is to a human. You can't escape them and if you don't look out you'll probably end up banging into one.

That's Amsterdam for you, a city abridged into a few words and memories thanks to one single photograph. 


  1. Amsterdam is a city like none other... i was fortunate to visit it long time back and discovered the Gandhi restaurant there...

  2. There are a lot of restaurants from around the world in amsterdam now. I don't know Gandhi but am aware of at least 3-4 good Indian restaurants. That's the other thing so wonderful about Amsterdam. Because it is so touristy you find people and places from all over the world. Thanks

  3. And that's a fabulous post, Raghav. Waiting for more in the series :-)

    1. Thank you. Already mentally working on the next two :-)